Art History Lectures
Surrealist Art and its Precursors
Presented by Cornelia Feye
Tuesdays, October 1, 8, 15 & 22, 2019
All lectures begin at 7:30 PM
This four-part lecture series explores the surrealist movement that began in Paris in the 1920s, while also acknowledging its influences from 16th to 19th centuries artists such as Hieronymus Bosch and Francisco de Goya. The original surrealist artists and writers were inspired by Sigmund Freud’s dream analysis and the exploration of the subconscious mind. They were also reacting to the devastation of World War I and revolting against the values of a society that had led to such destruction. Under the leadership of André Breton, surrealists aimed to express themselves without restrictions of reason, moral, or aesthetic considerations. Breton’s death in 1966 left no heir to unite the divergent branches of surrealist artists all over the world and led to the end of surrealism as a unified movement.
Artists like Salvador Dali acknowledged the influence of 16th century artists Hieronymus Bosch and Guiseppe Arcimboldo in their work. The surrealists admired Bosch’s depictions of the “strangeness of life.” This lecture will explore the art of these Renaissance painters as well as the influences of Francisco de Goya from the 18th century and Gustave Moreau and the symbolists from the 19th century.
Surrealism grew out of the Swiss Dada movement and many artists made the transition. In 1925, André Breton organized the first group exhibition La peinture surréaliste in the Gallery Pierre in Paris. It included work by Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, Jean Arp, Max Ernst, Joan Miró, André Masson, Man Ray, Jean Tanguy, and Pierre Roy. New members joined the group in 1929: former Dadaist Tristan Tzara, Salvador Dali, filmmaker Luis Bunuel and sculptor Alberto Giacometti.
From Paris, surrealism spread to Belgium, where René Magritte became a leading figure. In New York, Marcel Duchamp and Dorothea Tanning represented surrealism at Peggy Guggenheim’s Gallery of the Century among others. In Mexico City, Frida Kahlo and Diego Riviera together with a group of exiles from WWII organized and showed surrealist art. Exhibitions sprung up in Belgrade, Cairo, Prague, Brussels, London, and San Francisco. A historical survey at MOMA in 1936, Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism, introduced the movement to a wider audience.
Talented women artists have long stood in the shadow of their famous male peers. This lecture explores the contributions of Leonora Carrington, photographer Dora Maar, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, Leonor Fini, Dorothea Tanning, Remedios Varo, Meret Oppenheim, Gala Dali and others.
Joan and Irwin Jacobs Music Room
Athenaeum Music & Arts Library
1008 Wall Street
La Jolla, CA 92037
Individual tickets: $14 for members / $19 for nonmembers
Series tickets: $48 for members / $68 for nonmembers